Jin Cheng lived up to his billing as China’s next big hope by charging to a two-shot lead after setting a new course record at the par-70 Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in round one of the seventh Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. The 17-year-old from Beijing completed his round with an 8-under-par 62 that included an eagle on the 18th and seven birdies.
A one hour, forty-one minute suspension of play due to inclement weather early in the day did not seem to affect Jin as he quickly settled into his stride, going 1-under on the 460-yard 12th, his third. A bogey on the 15th set him back, but only temporarily as he strung together a series of unbelievable putts to beat the previous record at Clearwater Bay by two shots.
Speaking about his round, a delighted Jin said: “It has been a great day for me and the score was beyond my expectations. I hit the ball really well today, hit many fairways and greens with regularity and made some putts. I think my long game worked, which was important because I think I only missed one fairway and my irons were really good today.”
Two shots off the lead is Singapore’s top ranked amateur Gregory Foo, who carded an impressive 64 with three birdies either side of the turn.
Said Foo: “I’m very happy. Nice way to start the tournament, much better than I expected. Just happy to finish the round. I hit the ball well, kept the ball in play and gave myself a lot of chances. Didn’t make any bogeys, so that really helped me and rolled some good putts.”
Commenting on the course, Foo added: “You have to be smart about where you place the ball. It can still come back and bite you. It’s definitely about positioning and giving yourself a good putt.”
Alongside him at 6 under par is Nick Voke of New Zealand. Teeing off late in the day, the 21-year-old’s round was suspended due to darkness. He will return to play the 18th tomorrow morning. Voke got off to a flying start, collecting four birdies on the first five holes. Two more birdies and one bogey on the 17th left him in contention heading into the second round.
Said Voke: “I had a pretty good start, 4‑under through five. I had some good momentum early and hit a lot of quality golf shots, so I was quite pleased with that. I guess if anything sticks out today, I was just patient out there with my game. I didn’t really take on too many pins. Just sort of middle of the green and just try to two‑putt and get out of there.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Voke added: “Plan of attack would be to enjoy myself. I’m in the middle of Hong Kong playing golf, arguably the best scenery I’ve ever seen in the world. Just go out there tomorrow and have fun and see how much I can learn.”
Guan Tianlang, 2012 champion, carded a solid opening round of 2-under-par 68, while defending champion Antonio Murdaca was unable to repeat the heroics of 12 months earlier at Royal Melbourne, posting a first-round score of 1-under-par to leave him tied in 29th place in hot and humid afternoon conditions.
Among the local Hong Kong contingent, it was Michael Wong who set the early pace, finishing at 1 under par alongside Murdaca. If it wasn’t for a double-bogey on the par-four 17th, he would have found himself within striking distance of the leaders. Oliver Roberts and Motin Yeung are both a shot further back at even par, with the top-ranked amateur player in Hong Kong, Leon Philip D’Souza, a further shot back at one-over.
Round one was suspended at 6:15 p.m. due to darkness. Twenty-seven players will return to finish their first round resuming from 6:20 a.m. on Friday. The second round is scheduled to begin Friday at 7:10 a.m.
For a listing of results, click here.